With ‘Students at the Core’ as their underpinning philosophy, CareerTrackers have made wonderful contributions to the tertiary education outcomes of Australia’s young Indigenous adults. In their work supporting students through their university studies and correlating professional development, this decade old non-profit has built a strong community of CareerTrackers interns and Alumni.
CareerTrackers was established in 2009 with the goal of creating pathways and support systems for young Indigenous adults to attend and graduate from university with high marks and valuable industry experience through paid, multi-year internships. This goal has been well and truly accomplished - within three months of graduation, 95% of CareerTrackers Alumni find full-time employment. This employment often results from opportunities that arise through intern experiences with sponsorship organisations. As of 2020, the Alumni community has grown to an incredible 1073 highly educated Indigenous professionals.
Links to the Foundation
The Watarrka Foundation has had the privilege of receiving ongoing support from CareerTrackers for many years. Mostly notably, they provide us with staff, interns and alumni from their organisation to assist with the happenings of the annual Sports & Storytelling Festival held in Lilla. We believe their contributions have been of great benefit to the kids of the Watarrka region and in return, the invaluable experience of visiting a remote Indigenous community has been enlightening for CareerTrackers members.
Featured above: Sports & Storytelling Festival 2018
Manny Bell – CareerTrackers Alumni
This month we spoke to Manny Bell, a CareerTrackers alumni, about his experience with the organisation and connections to the Watarrka Foundation. As a proud descendant of the Wakka Wakka and Biri Gubba people, Manny holds strong ties with his heritage and is an advocate for the education of Indigenous youth. After being accepted into the Bachelor of Law at the University of Queensland, Manny sought to establish ties with Indigenous organisations and to expand his network whilst studying. After attending a presentation at the university, he soon discovered CareerTrackers. For Manny, this was a life changing experience:
"Walking into that room was by chance – but it would turn out to be the start of my journey to becoming a lawyer with Dentons. Little did I know, CareerTrackers would go on to become the premier internship program for Indigenous university students – providing us with a foot in the door with Corporate Australia.”
During his first year of university, CareerTrackers offered Manny an internship with a law firm in Sydney. Although based in Brisbane, Manny accepted this opportunity as he felt it invaluable for skill development and it would give him the chance to show Corporate Australia that Indigenous people are adept. CareerTrackers assisted Manny with the set up of his CV and prepared him for interview. It paid off as Manny ended up working every university holiday in Sydney, which later resulted in a graduate position offer with Dentons. He has since been admitted as a solicitor to the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Through his internship experience, Manny was able to build a strong network with Dentons and the wider CareerTrackers network of interns and alumni working in Corporate Australia.
During his time at Dentons, Manny gravitated towards a partner named Campbell Hudson, who shared a mutual interest in supporting remote Aboriginal children through their education ‘On Country’. Manny was introduced to the annual Sports and Story Telling Festival held in Lilla, a project that had been established the year prior. As stated by Manny:
"The Festival brings together the surrounding schools for 3 days of sports, drama and cultural activities. The feedback from the teachers is that kids really look forward to the Festival each year – and the teachers use the Festival as an incentive for the kids to aim high with their schoolwork. CareerTrackers has been involved with sending their staff, interns and alumni to the Festival for many years. I have worked closely with other CareerTrackers alumni to organise the Festival – in particular Sam Leak and Will Leak at Westpac who have been dedicated to ensuring the connection between Dentons-Westpac-Watarrka Foundation-CareerTrackers stays strong. Recently, the partnering organisations extended a special invitation to CareerTrackers’ Intern of the Year to attend the Lilla Festival.”
Featured above: Sports & Storytelling Festival 2019
CareerTrackers have now sent more that 30 staff, interns and alumni to the Lilla Festival. Manny believes this trip is special because it gives these individuals an opportunity to connect to country and visit sacred sites around Central Australia.
Manny’s story is exemplary of the invaluable support and guidance offered by CareerTrackers. The organisation’s work in supporting young Indigenous adults to become leaders in their field and their ongoing work with Watarrka Foundation does not go unrecognised. Our team are grateful for their involvement in the Sports and Storytelling Festival and we look forward to continuing this vital work with them into the future.